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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: EPA vs. WY rancher on: September 19, 2015, 02:21:09 PM
FORT BRIDGER, Wyo. — The sun was sinking and the brook trout were biting, so Andy Johnson and his daughter Aspen, 6, stepped onto their sun-bleached pier, hooked some mealworms and cast their lines into the most infamous pond in the West.

It is just a splotch of placid water amid endless ripples of grazing land here in western Wyoming. But in the two years since Mr. Johnson dammed a small creek running through his front yard to create the pond, it has become an emblem for conservative groups and local governments that are fighting what Senator Michael B. Enzi called a “regulatory war” with the Obama administration over environmental issues ranging from water quality to gas drilling, coal power plants to sage grouse.

“It makes no sense whatsoever,” Mr. Johnson said, pointing at the waving grasses and birds pinwheeling around the water. “We have wetlands now. I really think the E.P.A. should be coming in and saying, ‘Good job.’”

The pond battle has pitted Mr. Johnson, a 32-year-old welder, part-time barbecue caterer and father of four girls, against a federal bureaucracy that is, in the best of times, grudgingly tolerated out here. It erupted after officials from the Environmental Protection Agency paid a visit to the pond and, Mr. Johnson said, told him that he was facing “a very serious matter.”

Mr. Johnson dammed a small creek running through his front yard to create the pond for his cattle to drink from. He said it had become an oasis for birds and wildlife. Credit Kim Raff for The New York Times

In a January 2014 violation notice, the agency said Mr. Johnson had violated the Clean Water Act by digging out Six Mile Creek and dumping in tons of river rocks without getting necessary federal permits. The agency ordered him to take steps to restore the creek under the supervision of environmental officials, or face accumulating fines of as much as $37,500 a day.

Mr. Johnson refused.

He argued that he had gotten full approvals from Wyoming officials, and said the federal government had no business using national water laws to make decisions about the creek that meanders through the family’s eight-acre property. Mr. Johnson and his wife, Katie, had spent $50,000 — most of their savings, they said — to create the pond to water their 10 head of cattle and four horses. Dismantling it now would be ruinously expensive and destroy what has become a tiny oasis for birds and wildlife, they said.

After more than a year of unsuccessful negotiations, the standoff veered into a federal courthouse last month when Mr. Johnson sued the E.P.A., asking a judge to declare his pond legal and wave away accumulating fines of as much as $16 million.

“They have no right to be here,” Mr. Johnson said. “We’re law-abiding people. It makes your blood boil that they would come after you like that.”
Continue reading the main story

100 miles














By The New York Times

The suit argues that the pond is exempt from the Clean Water Act because it was created to water stock. Further, it says the creek is too far removed from navigable rivers to fall under the E.P.A.’s authority.

The case has drawn support from conservative leaders around the state. Wyoming’s Republican senators, Mr. Enzi and John Barrasso, called the agency’s action “heavy-handed bureaucracy.”

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

“What did they do wrong?” Representative Cynthia M. Lummis, Republican of Wyoming, said in an interview, referring to the Johnsons. “What does the E.P.A. intend to gain? What wrong are they trying to right by imposing fines on these people?”

A libertarian legal group called the Pacific Legal Foundation began representing Mr. Johnson at no charge.

“We can’t have unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats ignoring the limits of their own authority,” said Jonathan Wood, a lawyer for the foundation. “There was no need for federal regulation here.”
Mr. Johnson, with his daughter Brookley, said state officials had approved his pond. Credit Kim Raff for The New York Times

In a statement, the E.P.A. said it had been “attempting to work cooperatively” with Mr. Johnson and added that it had not yet imposed any fines on him. The agency declined to say anything further, citing the lawsuit.

While the Johnsons watch trout jump in Wyoming, more than two dozen states and energy and farm groups are waging a similar fight, arguing that the E.P.A. went too far when it adopted a rule clarifying its authority to oversee smaller streams and wetlands. After 13 states sued, a federal judge in North Dakota temporarily blocked the new water rule from taking effect across much of the West.

But other states and many environmental groups have welcomed more federal control of state waters, saying that a confusing patchwork of rules had left small bodies of water vulnerable to pollution. In Wyoming, for example, some conservation groups criticized a state decision that reclassified thousands of miles of smaller streams to allow up to five times the level of E. coli bacteria.

States and landowners often argue that they are the ones best suited to preserve their own land and water. In Wyoming, officials point to requirements that drillers test for baseline groundwater quality, and to measures protecting sage grouse — rules that have been lauded by the Interior Department.

In Fort Bridger, Mr. Johnson points to his own pond. Since creating it, he and his family have seen blue herons and an eagle, moose and muskrat come to drink, and it is full of trout. (The Johnsons say they only catch and release.) Water flows in from the west, and out and back into the creek over a sloping spillway of river rocks that Mr. Johnson dumped into the channel.

A private report he commissioned found only positive environmental results. But the E.P.A.’s violation notice described the rocks, sand and concrete he used to create the dam and spillway as pollutants.

As the fight wore on, Mr. Johnson sold off most of his livestock to pay for legal costs and environmental studies. All that is left are one steer, a donkey and a Shetland pony to drink from their own private, bitterly contested watering hole.
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Anaheim CA on: September 19, 2015, 02:15:11 PM
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grannis: Bad news, good news on: September 19, 2015, 11:58:56 AM
204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 19, 2015, 11:19:57 AM
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / State Dept atty asked HRC atty to delete classified emails. on: September 18, 2015, 11:52:54 PM
To be read with care:
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama says treaties trump Constitution on: September 18, 2015, 11:06:12 PM
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CBN News on: September 18, 2015, 10:24:06 PM
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carly praised Hillary some years ago. on: September 18, 2015, 09:48:53 PM
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary started the Kenyan meme on: September 18, 2015, 09:34:47 PM
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ opposes special prosecutor on: September 18, 2015, 06:40:04 PM

    Review & Outlook

Letting Clinton Off the Hook
A special prosecutor for Clinton’s emails is a dumb idea.
Sept. 18, 2015 6:37 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell likes to say there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. Maybe not, but Mr. McConnell might want to kick his deputy John Cornyn anyway for asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email transgressions.

Mr. Cornyn, the senior Senator from Texas and number two in the Republican leadership, says that Justice’s political appointees can’t fairly investigate President Obama’s former Secretary of State. But as dumb political ideas go, a special prosecutor exceeds even Washington expectations. It would let the Administration and Mrs. Clinton off the hook through the 2016 election.

A special counsel would let FBI Director James Comey pass the buck, relieving pressure on his G-men to subject Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified information to the same standards they have other officials.
Opinion Journal Video
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton on a new twist in the former Secretary of State's private server scandal. Photo credit: Associated Press.

That includes former CIA directors David Petraeus and John Deutch, who copped misdemeanor pleas, and former national security adviser Sandy Berger, who snuck classified material out of the National Archives. None of them used a personal email server to willfully dodge the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

A special prosecutor would also let Mrs. Clinton bury the scandal until well after next year’s Democratic primaries and November election. The Clinton team is desperate to change the subject to anything but the emails, and what better way than to say it’s all being investigated.

Meanwhile, the courts and watchdog groups are forcing more email disclosures each week. Last week former Clinton aide Bryan Pagliano, who set up and maintained her server—and was paid personally by Mrs. Clinton to do so even as he worked at the State Department—took the Fifth in response to a Senate summons.

The court-ordered release of her emails is the reason we now know that her account contained classified information, and that several aides were also conducting business outside of official state computers. A recent Politico review of emails that have now been made public “shows that at least 55 messages now deemed to include classified information appears to have been sent to or from private accounts other than Clinton’s.”

Mrs. Clinton’s email abuses deserve public political accountability so voters can see how she’d operate with all of the government’s power at her disposal. And voters are catching on. A mere 35% of voters now consider her to be “honest” and “trustworthy” in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. A special prosecutor would let her hide this political character from public view.
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Carly Fiorina on: September 18, 2015, 06:29:39 PM
Didn't seem contrived to me.


Kimberley A. Strassel
Sept. 17, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET

Asked during Wednesday’s GOP debate which woman he’d put on the $10 bill, Jeb Bush named Margaret Thatcher. As Mr. Bush then joked that it would probably be illegal to put a British prime minister on American currency, eyes flicked to the woman standing to his left. Quite so.

Carly Fiorina isn’t Margaret Thatcher, just as her Republican rivals aren’t Ronald Reagan. Yet Ms. Fiorina has a bit of Thatcher about her—and in one way in particular. She isn’t a woman running for president. She’s a presidential contender who happens to be a woman.

That’s new for the GOP. Women have made remarkable inroads everywhere, but there still may be no tougher realm than Republican politics. This isn’t, as the press suggests, because conservative voters are old fogies who’d chain their wives to sinks full of dirty dishes. It’s because conservative voters demand more from their candidates.
Opinion Journal Video
Wonder Land Columnist Dan Henninger on how the anti-establishment candidates fared in the second GOP debate. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Women Democrats pander on gender issues—abortion, birth control, the myth of unequal pay. They promise female voters special handouts. They pitch their womanhood as a qualification for office. And their base loves it.

Women Republicans don’t get to engage in such vote-buying. They are expected to be principled, knowledgeable, serious. They are expected to propose policies—sometimes unpopular ones—designed to help all Americans. And, because the general public (both right and left) is still new to the idea of a woman president, they are expected to do all this twice as well as men.

This was Elizabeth Dole’s problem in her fleeting 2000 presidential bid. Ms. Dole ran on her gender, arguing America ought to elect its first female president—which was no argument at all. It was a problem in 2012 for Michele Bachmann, who loved to claim special insight as “a mother of five” and a “homemaker.” It was a problem for Sarah Palin, whose occasional flubs allowed late-night comics to undermine her seriousness as a vice-presidential candidate.

The Iron Lady didn’t do identity politics, and Ms. Fiorina doesn’t either. At the debate she offered unadulterated substance. She was informed, focused, specific. Want to know what Carly thinks of Putin? Here. Need Carly to explain how hard it is to alter the 14th amendment? Right at ya. Curious if Carly is familiar with Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, and where he’s traveled lately? Boom, boom, boom.

Ms. Fiorina had the opportunity to play the gender card, but she didn’t. Asked about Donald Trump’s comments on her appearance, she might have derided the billionaire as a misogynist. She didn’t. When Chris Christie essentially told her to shut up, she might have looked wounded and wilted. She didn’t.

It isn’t that Ms. Fiorina doesn’t talk about women, or ignores that she is one. It’s simply that she acknowledges it matter of factly, and in the context of opportunity for all. As the men on stage fumbled to think of a lady heroine to grace the $10 bill, Ms. Fiorina demurred. “I wouldn’t change the $10 bill or the $20 bill. I think, honestly, it’s a gesture,” she said. “We ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group.”

She also seems to have mastered the difference between being emotional and being relatable. Every politician seeks to make a connection with voters, but it’s a tougher balancing act for women. Witness the endless fretting in Hillary Clinton’s camp about how to make her more likable, more human, while still projecting toughness and fearlessness.

Ms. Fiorina doesn’t try to do warm or fuzzy or cutesy or folksy. She rarely deviates from her no-nonsense tone. Instead of show, Ms. Fiorina tells. Her story about how she and her husband “buried a child to drug addiction” was a notable moment in the debate. It made her real, a person that many Americans could relate to. As did her obvious revulsion at the practices of Planned Parenthood.

None of this is to say that Ms. Fiorina is unaware of the special challenge of being a female candidate. Her debate performance proved she’s in fact highly aware of it, and that certain additional things are therefore required of her.

One of these is to offer proof that she can be an effective commander in chief. Guys don’t have to do that; girls do. It’s no accident that Ms. Fiorina was the only candidate to propose rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, to suggest restarting a missile defense program in Poland, and to run through how many Army brigades and Marine battalions are necessary for an effective U.S. military.

This gets to the other thing Ms. Fiorina knows she has to do: her homework. Republican female presidential candidates are rare; the base is still getting comfortable with it. She knows she can’t slip up. Her Wednesday performance—from her mastery of facts, to her fluid delivery, to her zingers—was clearly the work of hours upon hours of study and debate prep.

It was Thatcher who famously said, “In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” Ms. Fiorina has a long way to go to the presidency. But win or lose, she’s running far better than any Republican woman before her.

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TIM JONES 5 minutes ago

Carly has the charisma of a wolf ell.
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William Mikler
William Mikler 14 minutes ago

Well done piece about a woman who is doing her homework.

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Peter Petit
Peter Petit 17 minutes ago

Wouldn't it be ironic if the first female president were a Republican?
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212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Carly Fiorina on: September 18, 2015, 11:56:25 AM
Sincere thanks Pat.
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FP: All bark and no bite on: September 18, 2015, 11:55:13 AM
The tyranny of distance. While secretary Carter has yet to speak with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the seven months he’s been in office, and has often not played a large public role in working through the thorny issues of Iraq, Syria, and Russian adventurism in Ukraine, he has been more outspoken about the Chinese land reclamation project in the South China Sea.

In a speech earlier this month, Carter voiced his “deep concern” over China’s island building, which Beijing claims gives it territorial rights over not only the islands, but also a 12-mile zone around them. Carter says he’s having none of it: “Let me be clear: the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.”

He repeated that line word for word in a speech on Wednesday, adding, “turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit.”

But the reality is a bit different. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asia-Pacific security admitted, “I believe the last time we conducted a freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of one of those features was 2012.” Head of the U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris also said that the United States has never conducted a flyover of any of the islands, either.
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Carly Fiorina on: September 17, 2015, 08:33:41 PM
The "poor little Donald, every one is picking on him routine" does not fly with me so much-- welcome to the big leagues! but this is of more interest to me:

"Also, she supports Cap and Trade.

"She indicated that she would have voted to confirm Sonya Sotomayor.


"Supported Obama Broadband subsidies


"Increased federal government involvement in schools through funding, and doubling R & D spending by government


"For anchor babies-- this I saw with my own eyes last night

"Against comprehensive immigration reform

Umm , , , aren't all of us here against comprehensive immigration reform?

"Supports Dream Act, Gang of Eight and "legalizing" illegals and against deportation

Probably true, but citation please

"Contradictory positions for and against internet taxing


Understand, I'm not doubting you Pat, it is just that I want to have citations.
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / He couldn't be deported, so he was departed , , , after stabbing cop on: September 17, 2015, 08:12:18 PM
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carly Fiorina five weeks ago for 34 minutes on: September 17, 2015, 05:14:14 PM
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Street savvy New Yorker Donald Trump? on: September 17, 2015, 01:20:21 PM
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: September 17, 2015, 01:10:18 PM
Naturally, no presidential debate would be complete without some rank dishonesty. This includes Mr. Trump’s insistence that he didn’t pursue casino-gambling in Miami. You can look that one up on Google.

That was surpassed only by Senator Ted Cruz’s claim that he somehow opposed the nomination of John Roberts for the Supreme Court. If Mr. Cruz had some inner doubt about the Roberts selection in 2005, he didn’t advertise it at the time as far as we can find. The shameless rewriting of history to serve his latest political needs is becoming a Cruz hallmark.
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Saudi Arabia says it has taken 2.5 million refugees?!? on: September 17, 2015, 12:56:04 PM
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 17, 2015, 11:42:41 AM
Forget about who one. (sic  cheesy ) How did last night affect the Nomination process?

1. The GOPe needed to score a knockdown of Donald to blunt his support. Even with Tapper leading the charge against Donald, it failed. Trump supporters will stay with him. He might not pick up support, but he should not lose any.

MD:  Trump has benefitted from a positive feedback loop, one which IMHO may have peaked last night.  He looked over his head on the discussions of the Middle East and IMHO his response to the question about Putin was quite vacuous.

2. Carson was clearly the loser. He looked and acted like he had taken a dose of downers prior to going on stage. Worst for him was his comment about 9-11 and that he would not have attacked Afghanistan, but would have used the "bully pulpit". Carson will lose support, but this will have little effect on the nomination process and him being a vote splitter.

MD:  Agreed, not a good night for Dr. Ben.  I continue to like him, but I'm looking elsewhere at the moment.  Christie dinged him well on the lack of response to 911.

3. Fiorina is clearly the winner. She should pick up much of the support that Carson loses. However, some of the enthusiasm could be blunted as a result of her answer to Putin. She would ignore him and start arming every state around Russia. With Fiorina, she sounds more and more hawk. She takes over the splitter position from Carson.

Splitter?  I don't think so-- As they say, she is in it to win it.  Very strong night for her last night on many levels.

4. Bush did nothing to help his game. He may slow or cease dropping in support, but other than that, nothing. Donors who were in a panic before, and even worse now. Expect them to begin deserting Bush.

MD:  Not quite that bad, but not enough I suspect.

5. Rubio helped his case and should pick up a bit of support from Carson and the dwarfs. Expect Bush money to flow to him. He now becomes the GOPe alternative to Bush, and if Bush continues to fall, then the push for Rubio begins in earnest.

MD:  Excellent night for Rubio.  He will get increased attention and respect and is well-positioned to get his campaign moving.

6. Cruz, neither good or bad. He was left out of most things, but the few times he did speak, it was decent. Not yet his time. Maybe VP with Trump or SCOTUS.

MD:  or Attorney General?   If Trump implodes, which does strike me as possible, he could surprise to the upside.

7. Christie did very good. He might pick up a bit of support, but he can't win.

MD:  You might be right, but he too is going to be getting a lot more attention and respect.  Let's see what he does with it.

8. The others are just out in the cold.

Carly now becomes the spoiler factor if she can get the support. But she remains an enigma. When she talks, she reminds me of a pissed off ex-wife. More important, she is in favor of Cap and Trade, a Global Warming partisan, Amnesty H1B supporter, and has tax issues.

MD:  I will be looking out for these issues.

Essentially, unless something occurs otherwise, Trump has the nomination to win or lose. No one else can disable Trump otherwise.

MD:  I know you really like Trump, but I agree, he may well turn out to be his own worst enemy.
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Two Cheers for Rand on: September 17, 2015, 11:30:32 AM
Two Cheers for Rand Paul: The Kentucky Senator Brought the Libertarian in Debate
On foreign policy and drug policy, he staked out distinct and forward-looking policies.
Nick Gillespie|Sep. 17, 2015 8:49 am

 At last night's GOP debate hosted by CNN (full transcript here), the Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul brought consistently brought libertarian—or at least libertarianish—perspectives on major policy debates. Whether that jumpstarts his presidential campaign is anybody's guess, but it was a bracing and welcome development.

On foreign policy and drug policy (including criminal justice reform), the senator stood out as the one Republican candidate who championed new directions rather than doubling or tripling down on failed policy after failed policy.

On foreign policy, Paul was essentially the only one advancing any sort of vision distinct from the failed interventionist thinking that has coursed through D.C. politics under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Despite a dubious claim by Donald Trump that he was the "only one on the dais" who was opposed to invading Iraq in 2003, Paul could say with conviction

I’ve made my career as being an opponent of the Iraq War. I was opposed to the Syria war. I was opposed to arming people who are our enemies.

Iran is now stronger because Hussein is gone. Hussein was the great bulwark and counterbalance to the Iranians. So when we complain about the Iranians, you need to remember that the Iraq War made it worse.

More important, Paul, who early on in his senatorial career talked forthrightly about the need to reduce not just the Pentagon's budget (U.S. defense spending continues to essentially equal that of all other countries), stressed that we need to rethink military interventions in the same way we think about domestic policy:

We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us. We’re still paying the repercussions of a bad decision....

We have make the decision now in Syria, should we topple Assad? Many up here wanted to topple Assad, and it’s like — I said no, because if you do…ISIS will now be in charge of Syria…

It's a damning insight that after two major wars that have failed either to advance U.S. interests or stabilize the countries in which they were waged that "we have to learn sometimes [that] interventions backfire."

Even liberal critics of Paul specifically and GOP hawkishness generally give Paul props. Writing at Slate, Fred Kaplan notes, "It’s a strange debate where Sen. Rand Paul comes off as the most sensible contender on the stage." Where Carly Fiorina said she wouldn't even talk with Vladimir Putin or other world leaders who are despots and a number of GOP contenders insisted they would tear up the Iran deal like some circus strongman tearing up a phone book upon entering the White House, Paul actually made sense:

Contrary to almost all of his rivals (and his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill), Paul said that he would not “tear up” the Iran nuclear deal upon entering the White House. “Let’s see if the Iranians comply with it,” he said, in a tone suggesting that he was making an obvious point—which, indeed, he was.

Einstein once suggested that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. He might have been thinking about 21st century foreign policy, whether conducted by Republicans or Democrats. For all the folks who think President Obama is a shrinking violet when it comes to what he once called "dumb wars," the Nobel Peace Prize winner tripled troop strength in Afghanistan, tried to keep troops in Iraq after the withdrawal date negotiated by the Bush administration, intensified drone strikes in countries with whom we are not at war, bombed Libya without constitutional authority, has sent troops back to Iraq, maintained he has the right to kill even U.S. citizens without judicial review, and more.

Obama stupidly drew a "red line" in Syria that he was unwilling to defend and he may have actually urged Ukraine to stand down at Russian forces took Crimea, but such missteps don't mean he isn't essentially an extension of failed Bush foreign policy. Six years after leaving the White House, it's easy to forget what a colossal failure George W. Bush was in the foreign policy arena. Indeed, his abject failure on that score was among the reasons Obama was able to beat interventionist John McCain so handily.
Since entering the Senate in 2011, Rand Paul at his best has forcefully and directly counseled that America needs a different style of engagement with the world, one predicated less upon dropping bombs and more upon trade, cultural presence, and other forms of soft power. Last night, he rightly urged that regional players in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia (the indirect source of so much jihadism in the world), step up in their own corners of the world.

The other moment in which Paul flew his libertarian freak flag had to do with drug policy and criminal justice reform. Paul stopped short of endorsing the end of federal prohibition against marijuana, an idea that both enjoys majority support from Americans and is an obvious move after decades of a failed drug war. Instead, Paul couched his argument in 10th Amendment terms, saying that states should be allowed to experiment with different approaches to medical and recreational pot legalization, a radical idea among the Republicans on stage and drug warriors such as Hillary Clinton:

The bottom line is the states. We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this. And I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.

Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.

So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.

Paul was alone among last night's participants in touching on the racial disparities visited like a plague upon the country by the drug war. It's of a piece with his ongoing efforts to reach out to new constituencies for the GOP, especially lower-income minorities who bear the brunt of drug laws that are not only odious by themselves but are used much more intensely against blacks and Hispanics. Indeed, one of the most electrifying moments in the debate for me came when Paul told Jeb Bush, the son and brother of presidents and an argent drug warrior, to check his privilege:

Under the current circumstances, kids who had privilege like you [Jeb Bush, who has admitted to smoking pot in high school] do, don’t go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail. I don’t think that’s fair. And I think we need to acknowledge it, and it is hypocritical to still want to put poor people in jail.

Despite the drug war losing ground at the state level—a couple of dozen states allow medical marijuana and three allow for recreational pot with more sure to follow—it's a brave stance to embrace the idea that people might be free to choose their intoxicants. People seeking national office are far more likely to fall back on the cliches peddled by Carly Fiorina, who invoked her daughter who died from substance abuse and denounced pot legalization via the discredited gateway-drug theory.

As an independent voter and a small-L libertarian, I don't have a strong interest in partisan politics. That's probably because there's never really been a moment in my lifetime when either of the major parties came within a thousand miles of championing policies that line up with my beliefs and predilections. I remain far more interested in all the ways that the libertarian moment is proceeding despite pushback by Democrats and Republicans. The cultural and political forces of decentralization and the empowerment  of individuals to live lives of their own choosing will continue to grow whomever gets elected in 2016. Having champions in one or both of the major parties pushing libertarian ideas about limiting the size, scope, and spending of government at all levels could speed up the timing, but the move toward increased human freedom and flourishing won't be denied over the long haul.

But Rand Paul's performance last night, which included a pitch-perfect take on the minor issue of vaccines ("I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom) reminded me of why Reason dubbed him "the most interesting man in the Senate" when he took office. He is by no means without problems from my perspective (his muddled immigration policy, for instance, is longer on nativism than it is on a consistent embrace of individual rights and minimal government). Still, he was talking a different game than the others on the stage last night and whether he ends up as president is besides the larger point: His ideas and policy prescriptions reflect where the country is headed, whether establishment politicians want to go there or not.
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: September 16, 2015, 11:33:03 PM
Several strong performances tonight.

It may be that when we look back at tonight amongst the things that will be said will be that this was the night that Trump peaked.

A few snap impressions in no particular order:

Carly:  A very strong night with several home runs-- the passion she brought to her statement on Planned Parenthood was as potent as it was unexpected-- her press, polls, and money likely to respond pretty strongly;

Christie: Very strong night, more than once he executed really nice pivots; first time I have found him likable-- not sure what effect though on his polls or money, though likely to get something of a bump in ;

Paul: Started out pretty weak, but late in the night got in some good entries on the Middle East;

Huckabee:  Surprised me with the quality of his defense of the KY court clerk and statement of the issues involved; not his only strong statement during the night but some of his replies struck me was blowhard political BS;

Walker:  a better night, but mostly he was outshone

Carson:  I continue to like the man a lot and he certainly had a number of fine moments, but there were also a few where I have like more substance

Jeb:  A better performance but to my eye the apparent weaknesses remain

Rubio:  Several superb answers of foreign affairs stuff, the man has genuine strength here and presents it well; I thought he also did well on several other issues as well.  Not sure how much press, polls, and money he will get out of it, but I certainly think respect for him will greatly increase.  At the very least he remains a genuine player in the race.

Trump:  Due to the first question, the first many minutes of the debate where a food fight between Trump and most everyone there.  Eventually things turned to content and Donald had a lot less to say, particularly when it got to the Middle East.  Carly hit him some solid shots between the eyes here.  I thought his statements on immigration did a very good job of smoothing some previously present rough edges.  My wife's pity comment "He started looking like a one trick pony of one liners."

Kasich: Very much a "Compassionate Conservative" but had a number of serious grown up contributions to the conversation.   I can imagine his standing in New Hampshire to be improved.

Cruz:  Had a number of good moments, (including some really good ones on legal issues but I suspect they will go over most people's heads) FWIW my sense is that he will maintain where he is in the running. 
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: September 16, 2015, 06:38:24 PM
How can that be?  Because it was bank reserves that were increased, not m-1 or m-2 etc much beyond the usual.
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt on the debate tonight on: September 16, 2015, 12:02:45 PM
Trump, Carson and the Reagan Library Debate
Originally published at the Washington Times

The big debate Wednesday night at the Reagan Library really centers around two candidates.

If Donald Trump was the surprise focus of the first debate, it was because no one three months ago would have predicted that he would be polling ahead of every other candidate.

Now the focus will widen because Dr. Ben Carson is joining Trump in the extraordinary group of candidates we never expected to be this dominant.

In the new CBS News poll out this week, Donald Trump is at 27 percent with Dr. Carson having risen from 6 percent in August to 23 percent today. Governor Jeb Bush is a distant third at 6 percent. The most recent Iowa poll had Trump at 29 percent, Carson at 25 percent, and Senator Ted Cruz a distant third at 10 percent.
When two candidates are above 50% and the rest of the field is far behind, the focus of the debate is inevitably on these two.

The analysts are predicting the focus will be attacks on Trump. Between the media and a number of other candidates, there are plenty of folks lining up to pile on "the Donald."

An anti-Trump focus may simply shift votes to Carson, however, and turn him into the new frontrunner.

The contrast in style between the two leading candidates could not be greater. Trump is loud, constantly moving, permanently on offense, and enthusiastic about making lavish claims. Carson is quiet, calm, centered and very hard to rattle.

What the political media and consultants have not yet seemed to fully digest is that both of these men have been remarkably successful people prior to their runs for president.

Trump got his first cover of Time Magazine in 1989. He has owned or managed office buildings, hotels, golf courses, restaurants, the Miss Universe pageant, a line of clothing, and a very popular television show. He is used to complexity, negotiations, and stress. And as this video of Trump on Oprah Winfrey more than 25 years ago proves, he has been thinking about public policy for a long time.

Carson became the youngest department head in the history Johns Hopkins Hospital at 33 years of age. In 1987, he led a 70-person operating team for 22 hours and separated conjoined twins for the first time in history. In 2009, Cuba Gooding, Jr. played Ben Carson in a movie (Gifted Hands) about his life and achievements. Carson learned to make decisions under stress, while exhausted, in a very different world than any elected official I have met except for former Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist, who was himself a heart and lung transplant specialist.

These are serious, successful, complex, and accomplished people.

Anyone expecting them to disintegrate or, as some analysts like to say, "have the bubble burst" is in for a very long wait.

It is a long way to the nomination and there is plenty of time for others to gain support and compete.

Wednesday night's debate is important, however, because it is the first real test in which Trump will have a peer who is as nontraditional, as confident, and as articulate as he is.

Your Friend,
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The ongoing invasion of Europe on: September 16, 2015, 11:53:22 AM

Infowars is often a scurrilous site, so I ask sincerely, any inaccuracies in this footage?
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Agust CPI on: September 16, 2015, 11:33:39 AM
The Consumer Price Index Declined 0.1% in August To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 9/16/2015

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined 0.1% in August, matching consensus expectations. The CPI is up 0.2% from a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) fell 0.2% in August, and is down 0.6% in the past year.

Energy prices declined 2.0% in August, while food prices increased 0.2%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.1% in August, matching consensus expectations. Core prices are up 1.8% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – rose 0.5% in August, and are up 2.0% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 2.3% in the past year.

Implications: The final inflation report heading into today’s Fed meeting went off with a wimper, not a bang. Headline prices declined 0.1%, but all of the decline (and then some) was due to energy prices, which declined 2% in August and are down 15.0% in the past year. Excluding energy, consumer prices rose 0.1% in August and are up 1.8% in the past year. And while overall inflation is up a mere 0.2% in the past year, prices have risen 2.3% at an annual rate over the past six months. Core prices, which remove the volatile food and energy components, continue to hover around 2% inflation from a year ago, very close to the Fed’s inflation target. So regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's decision, inflation should eventually put pressure on the Fed to raise rates faster than the market expects. Core consumer prices in August were led higher by housing. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the CPI, rose 0.2% in August, is up 3% in the past year, up at a 3.5% annual rate in the past three months, and will be a key source of higher inflation in the year ahead. While some scaremongers warn about deflation, others stoke fears of hyperinflation. But the truth is that neither is a threat at present. What we have is low inflation that is likely to gradually work it’s way upward over the next few years. On the earnings front, “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings rose 0.5% in August, and are up a modest 2.0% in the past year. In other words, increases in consumer spending have been driven by higher earnings, not consumers loading up on debt. Taken as a whole, recent trends in both consumer and producer prices, paired with solid employment growth and a 5.1% unemployment rate, suggest the Fed has solid grounds to announce the start to rate hikes in tomorrow’s statement.
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitution NOT founded on slavery or racism on: September 16, 2015, 10:02:37 AM
THE Civil War began over a simple question: Did the Constitution of the United States recognize slavery — property in humans — in national law? Southern slaveholders, inspired by Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, charged that it did and that the Constitution was proslavery; Northern Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, and joined by abolitionists including Frederick Douglass, resolutely denied it. After Lincoln’s election to the presidency, 11 Southern states seceded to protect what the South Carolina secessionists called their constitutional “right of property in slaves.”

The war settled this central question on the side of Lincoln and Douglass. Yet the myth that the United States was founded on racial slavery persists, notably among scholars and activists on the left who are rightly angry at America’s racist past. The myth, ironically, has led advocates for social justice to reject Lincoln’s and Douglass’s view of the Constitution in favor of Calhoun’s. And now the myth threatens to poison the current presidential campaign. The United States, Bernie Sanders has charged, “in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back, on racist principles, that’s a fact.”

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

But as far as the nation’s founding is concerned, it is not a fact, as Lincoln and Douglass explained. It is one of the most destructive falsehoods in all of American history.

Yes, slavery was a powerful institution in 1787. Yes, most white Americans presumed African inferiority. And in 1787, proslavery delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia fought to inscribe the principle of property in humans in the Constitution. But on this matter the slaveholders were crushed.

James Madison (himself a slaveholder) opposed the ardent proslavery delegates and stated that it would be “wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.” The Constitutional Convention not only deliberately excluded the word “slavery,” but it also quashed the proslavery effort to make slavery a national institution, and so prevented enshrining the racism that justified slavery.

The property question was the key controversy. The delegates could never have created a federal union if they had given power to the national government to meddle in the property laws of the slave states. Slavery would have to be tolerated as a local institution. This hard fact, though, did not sanction slavery in national law, as a national institution, as so many critics presume. This sanction was precisely what the proslavery delegates sought with their failed machinations to ensure, as Madison wrote, that “some provision should be included in favor of property in slaves.” Most of the framers expected slavery to gradually wither away. They would do nothing to obstruct slavery’s demise.

The South did win some concessions at the convention, but they were largely consolation prizes. The notorious three-fifths clause tied slaveholding to political power, but proslavery delegates, led by South Carolinians, repeatedly pressed for slaves to be counted as full persons, which Charles Pinckney professed was “nothing more than justice.” They finally conceded to the three-fifths compromise. Over time, the congressional bulwark of the slave power became the Senate, where the three-fifths rule did not apply.

The proslavery delegates desperately wanted the Constitution to bar the national government from regulating the Atlantic slave trade, believing it would be an enormous blow against slavery. The first draft of the Constitution acceded to their bluster. But antislavery Northerners erupted in protest and proposed that the new government have the power not only to regulate the trade but also to abolish it after 1800. The proslavery men, over Madison’s furious objection, got the date extended to 1808, but it was a salvage operation.

In the convention’s waning days, proslavery delegates won a clause for the return of runaway slaves from free states. Yet the clause was a measure of slavery’s defensiveness, prompted by then landmark Northern gradual emancipation laws, and was so passively worded that enforcement was left to nobody, certainly not the federal government. Antislavery Northerners further refined the wording to ensure it did not recognize slaves as property.

As slavery was abolished throughout the North and as Southern slavery became an internal empire, proslavery advocates tried to reverse the framers’ work, claiming that, with the fugitive servant clause, the Constitution actually established slaves as property in national law. “[H]ave we not a right, under the Constitution, to our property in our slaves?” Senator Calhoun declared in 1840. This became the foundation for proslavery arguments about the expansion of slavery into the national territories that divided the nation in the 1850s.

Antislavery leaders answered with chapter and verse that the framers had refused to extend a constitutional right to property in slaves, and that therefore Congress was empowered to halt slavery’s expansion, putting slavery, in Lincoln’s phrase, on “the course of ultimate extinction.” Douglass broke with those abolitionists who, he said, “hold the Constitution to be a slaveholding instrument.” Running for president in 1860, Lincoln asserted that the framers had operated “on purpose to exclude from the Constitution the idea that there could be property in man.” He added that “[t]o show all this is easy and certain.” It was so well understood in 1860 that it provoked the Civil War.

Far from a proslavery compact of “racist principles,” the Constitution was based on a repudiation of the idea of a nation dedicated to the proposition of property in humans. Without that antislavery outcome in 1787, slavery would not have reached “ultimate extinction” in 1865.
228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Superior Morality of Capitalism on: September 16, 2015, 09:38:30 AM
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary on marriage in 2004 on: September 16, 2015, 09:32:24 AM
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: September 15, 2015, 05:52:43 PM
I heard the State Dept is now saying there is no five month gap?!?
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Bin Laden Papers on: September 15, 2015, 10:19:06 AM


    Review & Outlook

The Bin Laden Papers
Release the captured files on al Qaeda’s secret deals with Iran.
A translated copy of an application to join Osama bin Laden's terrorist network is photographed in Washington, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. ENLARGE
A translated copy of an application to join Osama bin Laden's terrorist network is photographed in Washington, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Photo: Associated Press
Sept. 14, 2015 7:21 p.m. ET

Unlike so many terrorists, Osama Bin Laden didn’t take all of his secrets to the grave. The Navy SEALs who hunted him down also brought back from his Abbottabad hideout many files on al Qaeda’s plans as well as its cooperation with Iran. The question is why the public hasn’t been allowed to see them.

In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute last week, Dick Cheney quoted former Defense Intelligence Agency Gen. Michael Flynn saying there are “letters about Iran’s role, influence and acknowledgment of enabling al Qaeda operatives to pass through Iran as long as al Qaeda did its dirty work against the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The former DIA director has also said Congress should seek all bin Laden documents related to Iran because they are “very telling.”

Here’s an example from one file that has been released. In a memo to bin Laden, an al Qaeda operative talks about another who is ready to travel:

“The destination, in principle, is Iran, and he has with him 6 to 8 brothers that he chose. I told him we are waiting for final complete confirmation from you to move, and agree on this destination (Iran). His plan is: stay around three months in Iran to train the brothers there then start moving them and distributing them in the world for their missions and specialties.”

More than a decade ago the 9/11 Commission reported that though there was no evidence Tehran knew about al Qaeda’s attack on the American homeland, “there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.”

The State and Treasury Departments did highlight some of the Iran-al Qaeda link when they were trying to keep the sanctions pressure on Iran. Here’s a sample of public statements:

July 28, 2011. Treasury sanctions six al Qaeda operatives working in Iran. “By exposing Iran’s secret deal with al-Qa’ida allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, “we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism.”

December 22, 2011: State announces a $10 million reward for Yasin al-Suri, who “under an agreement between al-Qa’ida the Iranian Government” moves “money and al Qa’ida recruits” through Iran.

February 6, 2012: Treasury designates the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security” for its support to terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida.”

May 30, 2013: State releases its country reports on terrorism. “Iran,” it says, “remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members it continued to detain, and refused to publicly identify those senior members in its custody.” It also allowed AQ members to operate a “core facilitation pipeline through Iranian territory.”

February 6, 2014: Treasury confirms that Yasin al-Suri “has resumed leadership of al-Qa’ida’s Iran-based network after being temporarily detained there in late 2011.”

You get the picture.

Yet earlier this summer the State Department’s latest country report on terrorism said Iran had “previously” allowed al Qaeda “to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran,” implying this was a thing of the past. Less than a month later, President Obama announced the Iran nuclear deal.

With his deal now moving ahead, the least the President could do is release the other bin Laden files dealing with Iran. And if the President doesn’t release the documents, Congress ought to demand them.
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Be careful what you wish for: Women in Infantry units on: September 15, 2015, 10:11:54 AM

Julie Pulley
Sept. 14, 2015 7:03 p.m. ET

With Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver recently becoming the first female soldiers to complete Army Ranger School, demands for the complete integration of women in the U.S. military are growing. In 2013 then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta officially lifted the ban on women serving in ground-combat roles. On Jan. 1, 2016, all branches of the military must either open all positions to women or request exceptions.

As a former captain and airborne soldier in the Army’s Second Infantry Division Support Command, I say be careful what you wish for. Overturning a long-standing tradition in a martial organization like the U.S. military will undoubtedly have unintended consequences. I am particularly concerned with demands that the Army permit women to join its Infantry Branch.

Don’t misunderstand, I was thrilled when Capt. Griest and First Lt. Haver earned their Ranger tabs. I was especially pleased when Army cadre and peers assured me that the Ranger School’s high standards were maintained. As a woman, I support equal rights to a sensible point. At the same time, women must acknowledge that equality does not mean selective equality. I wish it did. I want to see those hard-charging, superwomen sisters of mine pursue every career opportunity the military offers men. No doubt they can do it—and do it well. But Ranger School for these two exceptional individuals is not the same as allowing women to serve in the infantry.

First, opening the infantry to women necessitates revisiting Rostker v. Goldberg, the 1981 Supreme Court ruling that only men are required to register for the draft. If the infantry is compelled to include women, the argument against women registering for the draft will be invalidated. If women are to be treated “equally” and serve in the infantry, shouldn’t they be drafted into the infantry at an equal rate?

The unlikely event of a draft aside, should women in an all-volunteer Army serve in infantry positions in equal numbers alongside men? If so, how would this affect American military families and morale? Would such changes dissuade women from voluntarily joining the Army? And most important, would significant numbers of women in the infantry serve to strengthen or weaken national defense?

From a practical standpoint, I believe the impact would be negative. Many civilians, veterans and active-duty service members will disagree. Many will view me as disloyal to women in arms. I respect and understand opposing perspectives. I also appreciate the sacrifices of women before me who suffered and overcame countless barriers so that I could live big dreams, choose to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, and serve my country without feeling professionally inhibited, marginalized or disrespected.

But questions persist. Can the general population of fighting-age American women be expected to perform equally with their male counterparts? According to a U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center study released in 2004, the average fighting load carried by an infantry rifleman operating in Afghanistan was 63 pounds before adding a rucksack. The average approach-march load in combat, which includes a light rucksack, was 96 pounds. The average emergency-approach-march load, which includes a larger rucksack, was 127 pounds.

Would the infantry have performed as well in past wars had half the billets been filled by women instead of men?

Can fighting-age American women be counted upon to fulfill their duties without causing an increased administrative burden in time of national emergency? Around the time my company received orders to deploy to Afghanistan in 2002, a number of women in my unit became pregnant. My company, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., attached soldiers from two other Army posts to fill the vacancies caused by the inability of these female service members to deploy.

Will women serving in the infantry be injured more frequently or more seriously? In a 2011 article, the Seattle Times estimated the Department of Veterans Affairs paid over $500 million in benefits annually for degenerative arthritis, cervical strains and other musculoskeletal injuries. Will disability payouts increase with women serving in the infantry? I believe the defense leadership must conduct an objective study of basic training and military-school injury rates by gender to more accurately predict answers to such questions.

I don’t raise these questions because I am a “hater” or a naysayer. I ask because I am a mother of both a son and a daughter. As a former service member, I wouldn’t have wanted to be forced into a job in which I was severely disadvantaged. I do not want my daughter mandated to fill a position in which she will have to put forth significantly greater effort than her peers just to survive in a time of war. I do not want my son forced into a job where he is at greater risk because those serving alongside him are disproportionately taxed physically.

My hope is that the dialogue regarding the opening of all military branches will be thoughtful and realistic, unclouded by agenda and emotion.

Ms. Pulley, a 2000 graduate of West Point, is a former captain in the U.S. Army.
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Mario Bacalla
Mario Bacalla just now

It is amazing that in these forums when you ask a specific question as part of a post or response, what you get back are usually opinions all over the place that are not even close to the specific response that you were looking for. It seems that few responders bother to read or comprehend what you are asking or talking about. It is as if they are so desperate to show the “world” their knowledge or opinion, that the subject matter be damned.

You ask why 2+2=4 and you are going to get back responses that go from; “you are too dumb to figure it out, you are using the wrong formula, because the sun rises in the east, to it is Obama’s fault”.  Needless to say, frustrating but also revealing to the current state of affairs.
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william pogue
william pogue just now

Ms Pulley says what 100% of people who have been in Infantry combat say and believe. However, it is so Politically Incorrect, it goes unsaid and unheard! You go girl!!!
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Doug Schomberg
Doug Schomberg 5 minutes ago

There is a reason why women do not play football with men nor make the men's basketball team.

If you want a winning team, you need the best players on it...the infantry is no different.

If women can make the cut, put them on the field. But if they cannot, keep them off of it.

When the infantry team loses, people die.
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Charles Pierce
Charles Pierce 5 minutes ago

We have women in combat today and have always had women in combat.  But putting women into combat positions, Armor, Infantry, Cavalry is a mistake.  Do we need women in combat units, do we have a shortage of people wanting to serve in combat units?  The answer is no we do not.  The Marines have looked at mix infantry squads and found them to be lacking and less efficient than all male squads.  Has anyone looked at the logistics of having women in combat units.  If I go three or four weeks with out a shower or bath I do not have a problem, women do.  We need to stop using the military in social experiments that do not increase the efficient of the force.  I am a Retired Armor officer who was an Airborne/Ranger qualified individual. 
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Julie Keene
Julie Keene 5 minutes ago

The Israeli military has had women in its infantry divisions for decades--since 1948--and it seems to work out.
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Charles Pierce
Charles Pierce 4 minutes ago

@Julie Keene but not in direct combat roles since the war for independence in 1947/1948.
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Julie Keene
Julie Keene 2 minutes ago

@Charles Pierce @Julie Keene

According to Wikipedia (I know, I know) "The 2000 Equality amendment to the Military Service law states that "The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.""
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233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: $18T price tag on BS's proposals on: September 15, 2015, 10:07:34 AM
Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion
Democratic presidential candidate’s agenda would greatly expand government
Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing an array of federal government programs to fight poverty and income inequality that amount to at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade. Photo: Associated Press
By Laura Meckler
Sept. 14, 2015 6:58 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose liberal call to action has propelled his long-shot presidential campaign, is proposing an array of new programs that would amount to the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history.

In all, he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal, a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause. Mr. Sanders sees the money as going to essential government services at a time of increasing strain on the middle class.

His agenda includes an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run health-care program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges.

To pay for it, Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for the Democratic nomination, has so far detailed tax increases that could bring in as much as $6.5 trillion over 10 years, according to his staff.

A campaign aide said additional tax proposals would be offered to offset the cost of some, and possibly all, of his health program. A Democratic proposal for such a “single-payer” health plan, now in Congress, would be funded in part through a new payroll tax on employers and workers, with the trade-off being that employers would no longer have to pay for or arrange their workers’ insurance.

Mr. Sanders declined a request for an interview. His campaign referred questions to Warren Gunnels, his policy director, who said the programs would address an array of problems. “Sen. Sanders’s agenda does cost money,” he said. “If you look at the problems that are out there, it’s very reasonable.”
Read More on Capital Journal

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Calling himself a democratic socialist, Mr. Sanders has long stood to the left of the Democratic Party, and at first he was dismissed as little more than a liberal gadfly to the party’s front-runner, Hillary Clinton. But he is ahead of or tied with the former secretary of state in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and he has gained in national polling. He stands as her most serious challenger for the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Sanders has filled arenas with thousands of supporters, where he thunders an unabashedly liberal agenda to tackle pervasive economic inequality through more government services, higher taxes on the wealthy and new constraints on banks and corporations.

“One of the demands of my campaign is that we think big and not small,” he said in a recent speech to the Democratic National Committee.

Enacting his program would be difficult, if not impossible, given that Republican control of the House appears secure for the foreseeable future. Some of his program would be too liberal for even some centrist Democrats. Still, his agenda articulates the goals of many liberals and is exerting a leftward pressure on the party’s 2016 field.

The Sanders program amounts to increasing total federal spending by about one-third—to a projected $68 trillion or so over 10 years.

For many years, government spending has equaled about 20% of gross domestic product annually; his proposals would increase that to about 30% in their first year. As a share of the economy, that would represent a bigger increase in government spending than the New Deal or Great Society and is surpassed in modern history only by the World War II military buildup.

By way of comparison, the 2009 economic stimulus program was estimated at $787 billion when it passed Congress, and President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts were estimated to cost the federal treasury $1.35 trillion over 10 years.
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 15, 2015, 03:11:19 AM
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 14, 2015, 08:48:26 PM
I've retained a soft spot for Beck, but that is pretty hard to take.
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: September 14, 2015, 08:44:27 PM

Shouldn't that be in the Rubio thread?


The search for chinks in Trump's teflon armor continue:
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nixon's gap was 18 minutes, Hillary's is 5 months on: September 14, 2015, 01:00:19 PM
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 14, 2015, 12:58:13 PM
reliability of this site in unknown:
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mukasey: Cleaning up after the Iran Deal on: September 14, 2015, 12:51:02 PM


Cleaning Up After the Obama Team’s Iran Deal
Show Tehran the ways it may lose what it won at the gaming tables in Vienna.
By Michael B. Mukasey
Sept. 13, 2015 6:25 p.m. ET

‘We couldn’t have negotiated a better deal.” That is one of the two pillars of the Obama administration’s argument in favor of its nuclear arrangement with Iran, the other being, “there’s no alternative but war.” Those two propositions appear to have won the day—at least with enough Democrats in Congress to prevent a vote disapproving of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Iran deal remains deeply unpopular with the American public and with the Republican majority in Congress.

Over the past few months, the two propositions regarding the deal left opponents sputtering a catalog of its numerous defects. But it must be admitted that the first proposition—“we couldn’t have negotiated a better deal”—is plainly true.

Consider who the “we” are. President Obama, the deal’s principal proponent, has repeatedly refused to recognize the existence of Islamist radicalism and failed to enforce even his own red line against Bashar Assad’s use of poison gas in Syria.

The leader of the U.S. delegation, Secretary of State John Kerry, airily endorsed an inspections regimen agreed to between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency—an agreement whose wording he concedes the U.S. doesn’t have, although he thinks one member of the U.S. delegation may have seen it. Not providing the text of this side deal to Congress violates directly the statutory requirement that the administration supply “annexes, appendices, side agreements” and “any related agreements.”

Mr. Kerry also concedes that Iran will prevent access to what it calls defense sites. These include the Parchin facility, where Iran carries out weaponization experiments, and at which Iran will be permitted to take its own soil samples for presentation to the IAEA.

Finally, there is Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator. What was her response to the suggestion that Congress should have had a chance to review the deal—as the president promised and U.S. law requires—before it was submitted to the U.N. Security Council? “It would have been a little difficult when all of the members of the P5+1 wanted to go to the United Nations to get an endorsement . . . for us to say, ‘Well excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress.’ ”

Given that team, “we” really could not have negotiated a better agreement and can’t now.

Which leaves the claim that the only alternative to the nuclear deal is war. That is a half-truth. It is true that unless the U.S. presents a credible threat that at some point force will be used if the deal is violated, no arrangement with Iran means anything. It is not true that the deal sets out the only alternatives to the immediate use of force against Iran’s nuclear program, or that the deal threatens the use of force at all.

The only downside for Iran in the deal is that after a lengthy process, the regime might be found to have cheated, and economic sanctions would “snap back” into place. Even if that actually happens, whatever contracts Iran negotiates before such a finding—whether for the sale of oil, for instance, or for the purchase of “dual use” materials suitable for nuclear applications—the contracts are given immunity from sanctions under the deal, and would help the regime continue its quest for a bomb.

What alternatives are available that might convince Iran that it may not be able to keep what it won at the gaming tables in Vienna, and that force is a possibility if it cheats? One is that a later U.S. president could repudiate the deal. Against this is set the bogus claim that if the U.S. were to do so, the world would lose confidence that this country will live up to its word.

The Iran deal is not a treaty and has no constitutional status. Congress should declare, and try to get a court to declare, that President Obama has no authority to lift sanctions in Iran because he failed to comply with the Iran Nuclear Review Act he signed earlier this year—specifically, the legal requirement that he show to Congress the entire agreement including “side agreements” like the one between Iran and the IAEA.

There are other steps to take. Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, has suggested an immediate congressional authorization for the use of force if Iran violates the deal; beefing up U.S. defenses in a meaningful way; and perhaps providing Israel with the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. This “bunker buster” could penetrate even the underground Iranian enrichment facility at Fordow, which is suitable principally for creating an atomic weapon.

Has the Tehran regime ever done anything to suggest that Iran will yield to that kind of pressure? The evidence is slim, but there is some. On Jan. 20, 1981, as the resolute Ronald Reagan was sworn in to succeed Jimmy Carter, the Iranians released the 52 U.S. hostages who had been seized in 1979 at the U.S. Embassy.

Another hint comes from 2003, after the U.S. started asking questions about an until-then secret nuclear facility at Natanz—and notably after the U.S. had invaded Iraq based in part on a belief that Saddam Hussein had an active WMD program. According to the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, Iran in 2003 suspended its weaponization and weapons-design program, although not the enrichment going on at its declared facilities.

To be credible, the force that is contemplated must—at a minimum—be able to cripple Iran’s nuclear program for the long term. Some have suggested that Iran has sufficient know-how to quickly rebuild any damaged facilities. Yet as former Defense Department analyst Matthew Kroenig and others have noted, Iran doesn’t have the kind of robust industrial base necessary to produce from scratch the infrastructure embedded at its nuclear facilities. Rather, it bought and smuggled hardware from North Korea, from the Pakistani A.Q. Khan network and elsewhere, and took about 30 years to reach its current level. Following a strike, with intense surveillance and enforcement when necessary, Iran could be kept decades from a bomb.

However, before Iran can respond to a credible threat of force there must be a U.S. administration with enough steel to do more than talk about whether a vague military option is on or off a metaphoric table. That is assuredly not the current “we.”

Mr. Mukasey is a former U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and a former U.S. District Judge (1988-2006).
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on Russia's Syrian Play on: September 14, 2015, 12:46:06 PM
    Review & Outlook

Putin’s Syria Play
Obama’s vacuum helps Russia reverse 70 years of U.S. Mideast policy.
Vladimir Putin ENLARGE
Vladimir Putin Photo: Zuma Press
Sept. 13, 2015 5:55 p.m. ET

For 70 years American Presidents from both parties have sought to thwart Russian influence in the Middle East. Harry Truman forced the Red Army to withdraw from northern Iran in 1946. Richard Nixon raised a nuclear alert to deter Moscow from resupplying its Arab clients during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Even Jimmy Carter threatened military force to protect the Persian Gulf after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

So it says something about the current Administration’s strategic priorities that it is having trouble deciding what to do about Vladimir Putin’s decision to send combat planes to Syria to prop up Bashar Assad’s faltering regime. Should the U.S. oppose the move—or join in?

Last month the Israeli website Ynet reported that the Kremlin planned to deploy combat aircraft to Syria to help the Assad regime. The Russians are also sending an “expeditionary force” of “advisers, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and pilots who will operate the aircraft.” That deployment is now underway.

The decision to intervene seems to have been made during a visit to Moscow last month by Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general in charge of the Quds Force. The general, who armed anti-American Shiite militias in Iraq, now oversees Tehran’s efforts to save Mr. Assad. The Iran nuclear deal lifts international sanctions against Mr. Soleimani and the Quds Force.

So what is the Obama Administration to do? Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week that Russian intervention could “further escalate the conflict” and “lead to greater loss of life,” as if human rights are the lodestar of the Kremlin’s foreign policy. Mr. Obama also weighed in Friday, saying the Russian intervention was “doomed to fail,” and that Moscow was “going to have to start getting a little smarter.”

Mr. Obama made similar tut-tutting remarks about Mr. Putin after the invasion of Ukraine, which hardly dented the Russian’s taste for foreign adventures. But that doesn’t mean the Administration has given up on the Russians.

“The options are to try to confront Russia inside Syria or, as some in the White House are advocating, cooperate with Russia there on the fight against Islamic State,” Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin reported last week. The thinking seems to be that the U.S. has a chance to turn a lemon into lemonade by accepting Russia’s intervention as a fait accompli while defeating a common enemy.

Now that would be a sight: American F-18 pilots becoming wingmen to Russian MiGs to help a blood-soaked dictator stay in power. Yet as far-fetched as that seems, it’s also hard to see this President taking steps that might run any risk of confronting Russia or irritating the Iranians so soon after the nuclear deal. The result is likely to be one more policy abdication: More sermonizing about Russia being on the wrong side of history, and perhaps a few additional economic sanctions.

Russian intervention will not defeat the Islamic State. But it might save the Assad regime, while giving Moscow a new sphere of influence in the Middle East. It will also reinforce the lesson—for Mr. Putin and other autocrats—that the U.S. under Mr. Obama is a pushover and that now is the time to seize their chances.

As for the U.S., Russia’s intervention is another strategic debacle that could have been avoided if Washington had intervened years ago, when Islamic State didn’t exist and we still had credible moderate allies in the country. Had the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP followed John McCain’s and Lindsey Graham’s advice to act forcefully at the start of the uprising, they wouldn’t now be fretting about the Syrian refugees now swamping Europe.

The best option now for the U.S. would be to work with Turkey, Israel and Jordan to establish no-fly zones along their respective borders with Syria, along with protected “no-drive” zones in designated civilian safe havens. The model is Operation Provide Comfort, which established a safe haven for Kurds after the 1991 Gulf War and created the basis for a stable Iraqi enclave that is now our ally against Islamic State.

Russian pilots will not lightly risk a confrontation against superior American firepower and technology. A no-fly zone would also put some teeth into Mr. Obama’s promise to continue to oppose Iran’s regional behavior. Even better would be for the Administration finally to get serious about arming and training a viable Syrian opposition force, but don’t hold your breath.

Still, there’s a chance for the next American President to learn lessons from Syria: Namely, that inaction has consequences, and weakness is provocative. Until then, don’t expect any respite from Mr. Putin’s power plays—in Syria, Ukraine or anywhere else where his ambitions can find an opening in Barack Obama’s weakness.
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sanders says America founded on racist principles on: September 14, 2015, 12:42:14 PM
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: America's Legal Order Begins to Fray on: September 14, 2015, 12:41:21 PM
America’s Legal Order Begins to Fray
Amid the escalation of violent crime are signs of a breakdown of basic respect for law enforcement.
By Heather Mac Donald
Sept. 13, 2015 6:23 p.m. ET

After two decades of the most remarkable crime drop in U.S. history, law enforcement has come to this: “I’m deliberately not getting involved in things I would have in the 1990s and 2000s,” an emergency-services officer in New York City tells me. “I won’t get out of my car for a reasonable-suspicion stop; I will if there’s a violent felony committed in my presence.”

A virulent antipolice campaign over the past year—initially fueled by a since-discredited narrative about a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo.—has made police officers reluctant to do their jobs. The Black Lives Matter movement proclaims that the police are a lethal threat to blacks and that the criminal-justice system is pervaded by racial bias. The media amplify that message on an almost daily basis. Officers now worry about becoming the latest racist cop of the week, losing their job or being indicted if a good-faith encounter with a suspect goes awry or is merely distorted by an incomplete cellphone video.

With police so discouraged, violent crime has surged in at least 35 American cities this year. The alarming murder increase prompted an emergency meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association last month. Homicides were up 76% in Milwaukee, 60% in St. Louis, and 56% in Baltimore through mid-August, compared with the same period in 2014; murder was up 47% in Minneapolis and 36% in Houston through mid-July.

But something more fundamental than even public safety may be at stake. There are signs that the legal order itself is breaking down in urban areas. “There’s a total lack of respect out there for the police,” says a female sergeant in New York. “The perps feel more empowered to carry guns because they know that we are running scared.”

The lawful use of police power is being met by hostility and violence, often ignored by the press. In Cincinnati, a small riot broke out in late July when the police arrived at a drive-by shooting scene, where a 4-year-old girl had been shot in the head and critically injured. Bystanders loudly cursed at officers who had started arresting suspects at the scene on outstanding warrants, according to a witness I spoke with.

During anticop demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., last month, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris opened fire at police officers, according to law-enforcement officials, and was shot and wounded by police in response. A crowd pelted the cops with frozen water bottles and rocks, wounding three officers, while destroying three police cars and damaging businesses, Ferguson police said. “We’re ready for what? We’re ready for war,” some protesters reportedly chanted.

In Birmingham, Ala., an officer was beaten unconscious with his own gun last month by a suspect in a car stop. There was gloating on social media. “Pistol whipped his ass to sleep,” read one Twitter post. The officer later said that he had refrained from using force to defend himself for fear of a media backlash.

Officers are being challenged in their most basic efforts to render aid. A New York cop in the Bronx tells me that he was trying to extricate a woman pinned under an overturned car in July when a bystander stuck his cellphone camera into the officer’s face, trying to bait him into an argument. “You can’t tell me what to do,” the bystander replied when asked to move to the sidewalk, the cop reports. “A few years ago, I would have taken police action,” he says. “Now I know it won’t end well for me or the police department.”

Supervisors may roll up to an incident where trash and other projectiles are being thrown at officers and tell the cops to get into their cars and leave. “What does that do to the general public?” wonders a New York detective. “Every time we pass up on an arrest because we don’t want a situation to blow up, we’ve made the next cop’s job all the harder.”

Jim McDonnell, head of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the nation’s largest, tells me that the current anticop animus puts the nation in a place where it hasn’t been since the 1960s. “The last 10 years have witnessed dramatic decreases in crime,” Sheriff McDonnell says. “Now, in a short period of time, we are seeing those gains undone.”

Even the assassination of police officers doesn’t appear to cool the antipolice rhetoric. A day after a Houston police deputy, Darren Goforth, was murdered while filling his gas tank last month, Black Lives Matter protesters—as online video chillingly attests—marched in St. Paul chanting: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.”

An organizer with the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis refused to apologize for the tenor of the movement, while denying that it condoned violence. “Until the police aren’t the dangerous force that black people fear, the rhetoric won’t change,” she told the New York Times, after Houston Sheriff Ron Hickman, in the wake of Deputy Goforth’s murder, pleaded for antipolice protesters to temper their language. A Texas legislator, state Sen. Garnet Coleman, assailed Sheriff Hickman for showing “a lack of understanding of what is occurring in this country when it comes to the singling out of African-Americans.”

The irony is that the historic reduction of U.S. crime since the 1990s was predicated on police singling out African-Americans—for protection. Using victims’ crime reports, cops focused on violent hot spots; since black Americans are disproportionately the victims of crime, just as blacks are disproportionately its perpetrators, effective policing was heaviest in minority neighborhoods. The cops were there because they believe that black lives matter.

Thousands of African-Americans are alive today because of a law-enforcement achievement that now is in danger of being squandered. In the current eruption of violent crime, the overwhelming majority of victims have been black. The Baltimore Sun reported that July was the bloodiest month in the city since 1972, with 45 people killed in 30 days. All but two were black.

Police officials I have spoken with in recent months say that they long to hear America’s leaders change the tone of the national conversation before respect for the rule of law itself deteriorates further. They’re still waiting.

Ms. Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The One Man Road Show of Donald Trump on: September 14, 2015, 12:13:53 PM

The One-Man Roadshow of Donald Trump
Presidential hopeful flies high as rivals’ hostility increases; ‘Everybody who attacks me is doomed’
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump spoke about his tax plan, his rising poll numbers and how he will handle the next phase of his presidential campaign. Photo: Chris Buck for The Wall Street Journal
Monica Langley
Sept. 13, 2015 1:23 p.m. ET

NEW YORK— Donald Trump skipped breakfast one recent morning, blow-dried his hair in his Trump Tower penthouse and headed out to his personal Boeing 757 jet, dubbed “Trump Force One” since he emerged as the Republican presidential front-runner.

Seated in his plane’s living room, with its pearlwood and 24-carat gold trim, Mr. Trump worked alone, watching the big-screen TV and reading the day’s political news, mostly about him, with no binders of policy positions or talking points in sight. Upon landing, he waded alone into a throbbing mob desperate for his autograph at a packed Nashville rally.

It all fit the rule for staffers scrawled on a white board at campaign headquarters: “Let Trump Be Trump.”

The 69-year-old billionaire has soared to the top of the Republican field flying solo—a man and his plane, propelled forward by a gust of free media attention and virtually devoid of the staff, position papers, opposition researchers and ad budgets of modern campaigns. Now, though, with the time for summer flings ending and more serious voter examination just ahead, the Trump effort has reached an inflection point, at which he must decide whether he can continue to prosper as this kind of one-man show or whether the time for that is running out.

Travels and extensive conversations with Mr. Trump in recent weeks show that, while he is slowly beginning to bend to some candidate norms—opening state offices, readying ballot-access drives and preparing a tax plan—he continues to resist the experts’ view that he needs a conventional campaign apparatus.

“A lot of what I’m doing is by instinct,” Mr. Trump said in one of several interviews. “I assimilate a lot of information…and I believe in being strategic.” Instead of surrounding himself with what he called “political hacks,” Mr. Trump said, “I don’t need an inner circle.” His rationale: In an “age of specialization, I am tapping phenomenal people in every field.”

His tax plan, likely to come in the next couple of weeks, will reflect this approach. Figuring that “no candidate ever has known the tax code better than I do,” the longtime businessman issued directives: Simplify and cut taxes, help the middle class, solve the problem of corporate “inversions” in which companies move headquarters abroad, and “tax the paper-pushing hedge-fund guys.”

Without much staff, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has worked with outside advisers to flesh out the details of the tax plan, particularly to end up with a revenue-neutral result that neither raises nor lowers overall receipts. “We’re running an efficient organization with a business mind-set,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “We don’t need high-priced staff or consultants when leading authorities are volunteering to help Mr. Trump.”

Regarding his own tax rate, Mr. Trump said, “I would be happy to pay a lot more if it would help solve our country’s many problems.” He hasn’t released his tax returns but said he definitely would, without specifying when or the number of tax years.

Despite the bare-bones framework he has in place, Mr. Trump vows: “I will build a successful campaign for the long haul…I’ve never lost in my life.”

Republican strategist Kevin Madden said Mr. Trump faces new and serious threats. “One big question is whether he can turn momentum from celebrity fandom into an actual infrastructure to organize voters in cold gymnasiums in the dead of winter in Iowa…Trump hasn’t seen a full-on assault, which is just beginning, with millions of dollars in paid advertising and their relentless attacks.”

Criticism by his opponents is intensifying, calls for him to spell out what policies he believes in are growing, and Mr. Trump is entering the phase of the campaign cycle in which previous early GOP sensations have either faded or crashed.

Mr. Trump is reacting with characteristic bravado. “I hope they attack me, because everybody who attacks me is doomed.”
Surprise success

When he stood in Trump Tower’s marble-and-bronze lobby on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to announce his long-shot bid in June, few predicted the success Mr. Trump has had, not even him. “I had no idea I would do this well this fast,” he said, particularly after he was pummeled for calling some Mexican illegal immigrants “rapists” and “murderers,” which led Macy’s to drop his clothing line and Univision to end the Spanish broadcast of his Miss Universe pageant.

“The first two weeks were very bad for my brand,” said Mr. Trump, whose Trump Organization line of luxury properties includes hotels, golf courses and both residential and commercial high-rise buildings. In his office on Trump Tower’s 26th floor, the walls, tables and floors brim with testaments to his success—his best-selling books such as “Trump: the Art of the Deal,” magazine covers, the chair from which he told contestants “You’re fired!” on the hit reality-TV show “The Apprentice.”

After that rocky start, his poll numbers rose all summer, shaking up the GOP race and drowning out coverage of other contenders. The presidential bid is turning out to be “very good for the brand,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m No. 1.”

Jenny Beth Martin, chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, said the appeal is simple: “A lot of what Trump is saying is what many outside of D.C. are thinking.”

With fall arriving, Mr. Lewandowski is building what he calls an “atypical bottom-up model” of a campaign structure that has as many staff members in Iowa as in Trump Tower. “We get zero votes in headquarters,” said Mr. Lewandowski, from the sparse campaign office on the unfinished fifth floor in Trump Tower.

National political director Michael Glassner, who along with Mr. Lewandowski is among the few seasoned campaign operatives on the staff, said he has been Skyping with potential hires and renting space in states based on the electoral map. He is overseeing the nitty-gritty of ballot access in all 50 states and petition drives in the 11 that require voter signatures.

Press secretary Hope Hicks, a onetime Ralph Lauren model who was communications director in the Trump Organization’s real-estate and hotel division, juggles a demanding national press corps and a boss with a penchant for doing his own media. Daniel Scavino, who started as Mr. Trump’s caddie in high school and rose to operate one of his golf clubs, is running social media, in which he has been flooded with résumés and 98,000 messages in a month.
Donald Trump at his campaign headquarters in the Trump Tower in Manhattan, where his staff remains small. ENLARGE
Donald Trump at his campaign headquarters in the Trump Tower in Manhattan, where his staff remains small. Photo: Chris Buck for The Wall Street Journal

When a court overturned the NFL suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over “deflategate,” Mr. Lewandowski reminded his boss, a friend of the football star, “Don’t forget to tweet how happy you are that Brady is vindicated.” When Mr. Brady gave his first press remarks, a red Trump “Make America Great Again” hat was visible in his locker.

So far, the campaign website holds exactly one position paper, on the candidate’s now-well-known ideas for stopping illegal immigration. Besides a tax plan, Mr. Trump said he would begin releasing proposals on trade, health care and military and veterans issues.

But he added, “People don’t care about seeing plans. They have confidence in me.” There is little sign his is turning into anything like a conventional campaign.

Over Labor Day weekend, Mr. Trump stayed out of sight while other candidates paraded and picnicked in early-primary states, “That’s the exact opposite of what works for you,” Mr. Lewandowski advised Mr. Trump. “We want you where massive numbers of people can hear you and your messages, not a few watching you walk down a street.”

Instead, Mr. Trump huddled with advisers who volunteered to prep him for Wednesday’s debate on military and foreign-policy issues. Mr. Trump said he wasn’t cramming, though: “I’ve been prepping for 30 years.”

He limits his appearances largely to those before big crowds to ensure maximum media coverage. He will speak to about 20,000 in Dallas Monday night and then fly to Los Angeles to address veterans in front of the USS Iowa battleship. After Wednesday’s debate at the Reagan Library, he plans to fly overnight to New Hampshire for a rally in the first primary state.
Donald Trump took WSJ's Monica Langley on a tour of his office in the Trump Tower in Manhattan. Among his memorabilia: one of Shaquille O'Neal's sneakers. Photo: Jarrard Cole/The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Trump’s penchant for mocking opponents in his own party, as well as media figures, shows little sign of abating. Asked about a report of his disparaging former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina with the line “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?” Mr. Trump said: “She’s got the wrong persona. I’m not talking about her looks. She failed miserably at HP and in her Senate race.” Ms. Fiorina later said she didn’t worry about what he meant but suggested she was getting under his skin.

Mr. Trump also has belittled former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s “low energy” style but now says he is losing interest because “Jeb is just single digits” in the polls. Instead, he now directs fire at former neurosurgeon Ben Carson : “Jeb looks like the Energizer bunny compared to him.” Mr. Carson declined to comment; Mr. Bush has said Mr. Trump can’t “insult [his] way to the nomination.”

Sometimes, Mr. Trump simply ignores the conventions. Before the first GOP debate, candidates were invited to go for a walk-through, microphone check and makeup stop. Mr. Trump skipped it all, getting off his plane in time to line up with his rivals right before walking on stage, a campaign aide said.

His circle of outside advisers is equally unorthodox. Mr. Trump recently dined with activist investor Carl Icahn to “energize Carl about dealing with China, Japan and Mexico,” he said. Mr. Icahn hosted the dinner on his apartment terrace and recalls telling Mr. Trump, “You’re striking a nerve with the people who are tired of getting screwed.”

But, Mr. Icahn added, “The rich guys in the Hamptons don’t like you too much.” Mr. Trump’s reply was, “Who cares? They are all giving money to Hillary and Jeb anyway.”

Mr. Trump said he is talking with some of America’s “biggest corporate names and finest negotiators” about renegotiating trade deals and making sure the U.S. isn’t disadvantaged. “I’ll give you each a country” to deal with if he wins, he said he has told them.

Another close adviser is his 33-year-old daughter Ivanka Trump, who oversees Trump Organization real estate and hotel development in addition to heading her apparel and accessories brand. She introduced her father when he announced his candidacy and talks to him several times a day. On Thursday, she stopped by to ask him to meet with a business client in the building.

In the meantime, Ms. Trump’s work leading the renovation of Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office into a luxury Trump hotel is giving her dad an applause line on the stump: “I got it from the Obama administration—can you believe that? And it’s ahead of schedule and under budget!”
Irked by a sign

One of Mr. Trump’s themes has been his willingness to fund his own campaign while others “take money from lobbyists and special interests.” So when he swooped into Boston recently for an appearance hosted by a local auto magnate, he grew angry at a sign asking for $100 donations at the door to cover the event’s costs, and had his staff remove it. Even so, media reports called the gathering a fundraiser.

On on the flight back, Mr. Trump told his campaign manager, “I’ve turned down a $5 million donation, and then that stupid sign. My trip cost more than the $2,000 raised to cover their food.” Mr. Trump said he has spent around $2 million of his own money to date.

The next day, he headed to Nashville for a rally on his 757, which was largely empty as usual but for his four top campaign aides and five security guards sitting in back. There were no flight attendants or drinks served, but a binder of Miss Universe contestants was stacked in a corner with luxury magazines.

In Nashville, he told the audience, “I’m going to make this country rich again” and joked to them, “I need your friggin’ votes.”

Back home in New York, Mr. Trump said his real-estate business is evolving as he campaigns: “As the days go by, I give more and more to my children to run, and my executives.” His three older children with his first wife, Ivana, run divisions from the 25th floor. His fourth child, with ex-wife Marla Maples, is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, where Mr. Trump graduated from the Wharton School.

After work, he rode the elevator to the 68th floor to the penthouse home, decorated in Louis XIV style, that he shares with wife Melania and their 9-year-old son Barron. He emptied his pockets of germicidal hand wipes and $100 bills he sometimes hands to volunteers on the trail.

He caught up on news and the other candidates’ actions, as well as some of his own speeches recorded by his wife, who is more technologically adept. Mr. Trump doesn’t use a computer. He relies on his smartphone to tweet jabs and self-promotion, often late into the night, from a chaise longue in his bedroom suite in front of a flat-screen TV.

Later, in a rare moment of reflection, he likened being a candidate to the real-estate business and said he considers himself a better builder than marketer:

“Just as I’ve built great buildings that sell themselves, I believe in my product now. I’m prepared that if my truth doesn’t sell, the campaign won’t succeed. As in my buildings and my presidential campaign, the people will buy if they want the product. I don’t have to be the best salesman.”

Write to Monica Langley at
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244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Dr. Ben Carson on: September 14, 2015, 12:02:35 PM
Fair enough.

I heard him saying #1 and #2 in the last few days and I must say it concerned me.

As for #3 I would like to give him a chance to clarify his remark of a few years ago.  Certainly he spoke quite well at the NRA recently.

#4:  What you describe here is not my sense of his position, which I understand to have HSA's at its foundation.

#5:  I understand his comments on tithing to be a statement that most action should be private, not public.

#6: Agreed he needs to be careful with the God talk.
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donald Trump: The Art of the Bluff , , , overplayed? on: September 14, 2015, 11:48:02 AM
Trump: The Art of the Bluff
By John Fund — September 11, 2015

“I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see.”
— Donald Trump, in an interview for Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, by business journalist Michael D’Antonio.

“Trump was willing to say and do almost anything to satisfy his craving for attention. But he also possessed a sixth sense that kept him from going too far.”
— D’Antonio’s conclusion to the book.

One often-underappreciated virtue of U.S. presidential campaigns is that their extreme length makes it very difficult to conceal what makes a candidate tick. (Barack Obama in 2008 was an exception, and he had help from an actively complicit media.)

This reality is finally catching up to Donald Trump.

As good as his “sixth sense” may be, Trump seems unlikely to avoid “going too far” in the long four-month stretch between now and the Iowa caucuses in February.
On Wednesday night, it came to light that Trump had made fun of rival candidate Carly Fiorina’s looks to a Rolling Stone reporter. “Look at that face,” he was overheard to say. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Trump now claims he wasn’t talking about Fiorina’s appearance, but her “persona.”

Before the news of his Fiorina remark broke, Trump spoke at an afternoon rally protesting President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and blasted Obama for failing to secure the release of four Americans jailed in the Islamic Republic. Then he misapplied a lesson from history: “If I win the presidency, I guarantee you that those four prisoners are back in our country before I ever take office. I guarantee that. They will be back before I ever take office, because [the Iranians] know what has to happen, okay?”
Trump no doubt remembers that Iran released the hostages it had held for 444 days at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his first term as president. But foreign policy experts I’ve spoken to say that for Trump to “guarantee” a similar outcome for the four Americans imprisoned there today will likely lead to one of two disappointing outcomes: a) the Iranians stubbornly refuse to lose face by appearing to knuckle under to Trump; or b) Trump will feel pressure to use military force against Iran after he is sworn in so he won’t lose face.

“Reagan was careful not to comment on the hostages before he became president,” Martin Anderson, his late policy advisor, once told me. “That allowed him to exploit a vacuum and helped bring them home.”

In addition to the nationalistic fervor he can’t help whipping up, much of Trump’s support is predicated on his self-proclaimed genius in business deals. But National Journal reported this week that his business instincts are greatly exaggerated:

If he’d invested the $200 million that Forbes magazine determined he was worth in 1982 into (a mutual fund of S&P 500 stocks), it would have grown to more than $8 billion today. . . . That a purely unmanaged index fund’s return could outperform Trump’s hands-on wheeling and dealing call into question one of Trump’s chief selling points on the campaign trail: his business acumen.

Then there is the matter of Trump’s net worth itself. In June, Trump announced his presidential bid brandishing a document that claimed he was worth more than $8.7 billion. By August, when he filed reports with the Federal Election Commission, the number had ballooned to $10 billion.

#share#The game of hide-and-seek Trump plays with his “billions” was described by Tim O’Brien, a former New York Times reporter, in his 2005 book TrumpNation. The book quoted sources close to Trump as claiming he “was not remotely close to being a billionaire.” Trump promptly sued O’Brien for $5 billion in damages.

During the resultant litigation, O’Brien’s lawyers deposed Trump for two days in 2007. “Among the documents discussed was a Deutsche Bank assessment that pegged Donald’s net worth at $788 million in 2005,” O’Brien recalled in a Bloomberg View article this past July. “At the time, Donald was telling his bankers and casino regulators that he was worth $3.6 billion; he was telling me he was worth $5 billion to $6 billion.”

When Trump was asked about the wide discrepancy between his claimed net worth and the various independent estimates of his wealth, he revealed how his mind works. As D’Antonio reports in the excellent new Never Enough, “[Trump] explained the wide swings as a function of market conditions, and his own sense of the value of his name. This brand valuation — [Trump] estimated it was worth $6 billion.” Trump said in the deposition that the value of his brand “goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.” He then added some thoughts about his net worth:

[Wealth] can change when somebody writes a vicious article like O’Brien. I mean, I didn’t feel so great about myself when I read that article. I would have said that — after reading that article I would have said that this psychologically hurt me.

Trump is perfectly suited for the current media age. He provides enough outrageous quotes and distractions to remain such a source of endless fascination that the press has trouble catching up with his contradictions. D’Antonio says Trump “understood that in the media age, the frontier that might challenge a man or woman was found, not in the wilderness, but in the media. The boundary of this wilderness was marked by propriety, which was an elastic concept.”

Donald Trump has tested the media’s limits of propriety for three decades, and he’s usually succeeded in expanding them.

We will learn in the next four months just how far Trump can expand the equivalent political limits. As much as he may have mastered many of the lessons of the Robert Ringer classic Winning Through Intimidation, he might have forgotten a key one. “The secret to bluffing is knowing when not to bluff,” Ringer told me. “Some people don’t know when to stop, and they always regret it.”

— John Fund is national-affairs columnist for National Review
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The failure of State Dept security bureaucracy to correct on: September 13, 2015, 09:02:10 PM
 The True Failure of Benghazi
September 11, 2015 | 09:00 GMT
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By Fred Burton

Editor's Note: The following piece is part of an occasional series in which Fred Burton, our vice president of intelligence, reflects on his storied experience as a counterterrorism agent for the U.S. State Department.

On Sept. 11, 2012, Ambassador Christopher Stevens became the seventh ambassador killed in the line of duty when militants overran the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. As news of the attack spread, many came to believe Stevens' death was the product of negligence or incompetence on the part of the U.S. government.

The truth is, security failures are inevitable. Perhaps the State Department could have taken greater security precautions beforehand, or perhaps Stevens should have stayed out of Libya on such a significant date. But the partisan debates that erupted after his death focused so much on assigning responsibility that they distracted from the ultimate point. What really matters in the aftermath of a tragedy is identifying and addressing the structural or procedural problem behind the failure. And therein lies the deeper issue raised by the Benghazi attack: Controversial and high-profile as it was, it has not driven the State Department to roll out long-needed internal reforms.
Learning From Failure

The Benghazi attack was hardly the State Department's first catastrophe. When I first joined the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) as a special agent in the 1980s, it had only been a couple years since the horrific terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Beirut and Kuwait in 1983 and 1984, which were followed over the course of the decade by scores of car bombings, hijackings and kidnappings of American, British and Russian diplomats in Lebanon. And even before Beirut, there was the breech of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1968, the kidnapping and murder of U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel in Khartoum in 1973, the fall of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The list, of course, goes on.

After Stevens' death the Foreign Service came under intense pressure to step up security at U.S. embassies. In 2013 the State Department hired 151 new security personnel, added 20 new Marine Security Guard detachments and implemented stricter threat reaction requirements for embassies and consulates. Officials introduced more comprehensive fire training (attackers in Benghazi had set fire to a diesel fuel-soaked floor and furniture in the compound) and re-examined deployment schedules in an attempt to build cohesive teams that can be more effective in emergencies.

There have been structural changes as well, but they have not been comprehensive enough. One of the major barriers to effective security measures within the State Department has always been its internal organization. Beneath the secretary of state there are undersecretaries directing broad categories of department activity, such as political affairs or economic growth. There is also a catchall bureau called "Management" — known as "M." Beneath the undersecretary of management, nestled far down the flowchart with a host of other offices, is the DSS.

After Stevens' death in Libya, a commission was formed to investigate the root causes of the security failure. One of its findings was that having to pass information up the hierarchy slowed the department's response when crowds started swarming the walls of the Benghazi compound. The commission recommended that the assistant secretary who leads the DSS be raised to the level of undersecretary, reporting directly to the secretary of state.

The State Department opted not to alter its organizational chart to give the DSS direct access to the top decision-makers. Instead, it took a more cautious route, creating a new post, the deputy assistant of secretary for high threat, who is now responsible for ensuring diplomatic posts in high-risk areas receive plenty of attention. State also rearranged the security service itself so that the DSS Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis now reports directly to the assistant secretary of diplomatic security.
More Work Ahead

But these changes all occur far down in the hierarchy, locking the DSS — the office that bears sole responsibility for the safety of all State Department employees — deep within the management bureau. The security service's inability to report directly to the secretary of state will continue to inhibit both the free flow of information and quick, effective decision-making in emergency situations. The organization needs to either raise the head of the DSS to the level of undersecretary or make the DSS more like the FBI, with a single director reporting to the secretary of state. And until the State Department makes internal reforms, I am not optimistic it will make any real progress toward transforming its organizational culture into one that takes security issues seriously.

Of course, the true story of Benghazi was the exceptional heroism and courage of U.S. personnel on the ground. There is no doubt that the State Department needs to devote more resources to hiring and training security personnel in addition to making internal structural reforms. In 2012 Stevens and his staff paid the price for that neglect. But the DSS agents and CIA operatives in Benghazi executed their training brilliantly, shielding the ambassador as they escorted him to safety and calling for help. In recognition of their service, the State Department bestowed the Richard C. Holbrooke Award for Diplomacy on Stevens, the Thomas Jefferson Award to the personnel who gave their lives, the Secretary's Award to one officer who was seriously injured and the Secretary's Award for Heroism to 12 personnel who fought to defend the Benghazi facilities. There is no doubt that each one made a noble sacrifice; now it is up to those who remain to make future sacrifices unnecessary.
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